Montreux Jazz Festival

featuring Al Jarreau, Roberta Flack, Joe Sample, David Sanborn, and George Duke. Friday, August 11, at the State Theatre.

Blood Simple
One of the venerable jazz festivals in Europe, the Montreux Jazz Festival of Montreux, Switzerland, has been around for more than three decades. As a measure of its stature, a few years ago the festival managed to coax the recalcitrant Miles Davis into performing his old Gil Evans-associated tunes after years of electronic, hip-hop experimentation. This summer, the festival is taking its act on the road, but the Stateside tour hardly substitutes for a quick trip to Switzerland, as it features five artists who tour the states regularly and actually play jazz infrequently. With the likes of singers Al Jarreau and Roberta Flack, saxophonist David Sanborn, and keyboardists Joe Sample and George Duke, the Montreux tour features musicians who rose to fame during the electrified '60s and '70s; they are all talented, and some of them actually have a background in jazz. Sanborn, one of the kings of the smooth sax, will even play meaty music on select occasions (e.g., his performance of Duke tunes at the Tri-C JazzFest last year). But all of them have long since made a beeline for the greener pastures of pop music. Like George Benson and Kenny G, these light and jazzy R&B types have been a boon to jazz festival presenters. Montreux plays the trump with a lineup stacked five-high in smooth ones guaranteed to sell the folding chairs. Go and get your slinky groove on at Montreux -- just don't confuse it with a transplanted Euro-festival, when it ain't.
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